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“Digital government” on track to save £500m

Caroline Baldwin

The government has said it is on track to save £500m of taxpayer’s money by improving IT efficiency and tackling IT waste.

The minster for the cabinet office Francis Maude has also said he is committed to making the UK the “most digital government” in the G8 by 2015.

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As part of the government’s digital by default agenda, it is aiming to move public services online, beginning with 25 exemplar public services.

The government said it is on track to save £1.2bn by 2015, with savings rising to £1.7bn each year after the next general election, which will help fund the deficit.

Maude said: “Our digital-by-default agenda is part of a long-term economic plan to tackle the deficit we inherited. I’m pleased to announce today that we expect to save at least £500 million from IT spending this year, on top of the £500 million we saved from government's IT spending last year, and £250 million the year before.”

The government said some of the 25 exemplar public services will be live by 2015. These projects include encouraging 46m people to register to vote online and enabling 10m to self-assess their taxes online.

The government has calculated that on average an online service is 20 times cheaper than a phone transaction, 30 times cheaper than by post and 50 times cheaper than face to face.

The government hopes moving public services online will improve quality for users. For example, in one instance digitising a paper-based application reduced fees for the service from £130 to £110.

The first exemplar project to go live was the student loan platform, which supports 1.3m students applying for finance. And today the government has announced that driving records have joined student loans and are now live.

I am determined the UK will be the G8’s most digital Government by next year

Francis Maude, cabinet office minister

But one exemplar project, Universal Credit, has been under fire in recent months for IT problems, which has led to Department for Work and Pensions writing off £40.1m of IT work – with a further £91m to be written off over a five-year period instead of 15 years as previously planned. The project has also faced criticism from the National Audit Office for not delivering value for money.

“Back in 2010 our digital offering was limited at best and Government IT was a by-word for disaster. There are still challenges but with the help of the Government Digital Service I am determined the UK will be the G8’s most digital Government by next year,” added Maude.

At the end of 2013, a review into the government’s digital strategy found that projects were progressing, but inconsistently.

While the success of the GOV.UK saw the consolidation of government websites on to a single platform – scrapping 1,700 websites that were wasteful and confusing to the public.

But GOV.UK still has 200 agencies to move to the centralised website with a completion date of July 2014 – four months late - predicted.


Online driving records

The latest public service to go online from the government’s 25 “exemplar” projects is the driving records via the DVLA.

All of the country’s 40 million drivers will be able to access their licence information online, including vehicles you drive and penalty points, via a new DVLA enquiry platform. The platform will also help insurers check data to provide accurate quotes.

The service has been developed using an agile approach to IT procurement, and the DVLA estimates £14.2m has been saved from the cost of building the service.

Oliver Morley, chief executive and digital leader at the DVLA, said:  “Our aim is to maximise the use of digital to deliver high quality, customer-focused services that work for everyone. Although some services cannot be delivered digitally, such as assessing a customer’s fitness to drive, we can improve the processes supporting the delivery of these services through making greater use of digital tools.”

The service will be launched in June.

To see the progress of other transformation projects, visit the Digital Transformation page on GOV.UK


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